EDIT: for additional information on climbing San Cristóbal volcano scroll down to the comments section.
Writing this from Cabuya on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. A lot has happened since my last post (I’ve passed through Honduras and Nicaragua and climbed another 5 volcanoes) but the last few weeks my progress has slowed due to the seductive charm and easy life that the Costa Rican beaches have to offer, as well as some epic riding. I have a few posts to catch up on but here are some of the highlights from the last part of El Salvador to Granada:
After climbing volcano San Miguel, warmshowers host José gave me a place to pitch my tent at his home near El Cuco. A couple of kilometres west of El Cuco holds some world class surf at a beach called Las Flores where I squeezed in an epic day of surfing on a rental long board.
5 other bicycle tourists were also staying at José’s. Peter and Shahla (left) were coming to the end of a 10 year trip cycling the world fulfilling their dreams. Peter is a talented musician and it was impressive to see that he’d made himself a lightweight violin style instrument that he played to help fund some of the trip.
José’s family who selflessly accomodate weary cyclists far from home.
Heading close to the border of Honduras I deviated 5 kms up volcano Chonchagua where I camped in a bar with this view of the Gulf of Fonseca that El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua border.
I was in Honduras for only two or three days as I made passage to Nicaragua. I crossed paths with a friend (Seraina) who took this photo of me guzzling down 5 litres of water when we stayed in San Lorenzo.
After crossing into Nicaragua and staying at the border town, impressive views of the highest volcano in Nicaragua (also active and reasonably dangerous) came into sight from the road to Chinandega. It’s not often climbed for reasons which I found out later when I climbed it. I asked numerous locals, one in particular warned me that he didn’t think anyone had ever climbed it and the last person who tried had disappeared. The former turned out to be totally untrue.
The hot road to Chinandega took its toll and I stopped at this farm six kms short of the town. I ate the barbequed chicken they were selling and they invited me to stay when they heard my story. I ended up there for 2 nights. Everyday they would escort the cows to their field 5 kms away after one had been stolen when left overnight.
Biking round their field with Cesar just before sunset (and a major rainstorm).
Before tackling San Cristobal volcano, I headed to Consiguina volcano that sits at the edge of the Gulf of Fonseca on the Nicaraguan side. Currently only at 859m of altitude, this used to be three or four times higher and the highest in Nicaragua until it exploded with a massive force resulting in this stunning 500 metre deep crater. I hiked up without a guide and the navigation was reasonably confusing. Starting late and taking too much time at the top entranced by the view, I had to navigate down in the dark. The GPX/GPS track I recorded proved extremely useful in retracing my steps.
After heading back to Chinandega for some rest, I finally found myself at the base of San Cristobal volcano.
After hearing so much about how dangerous it is I took a local guide. The vegetation ended at just above 1000 metres. The remaining 700 metres or so was difficult hiking up an extremely steep slippery volcanic scree ridden slope. I had hiked nearly 20 volcanoes in my bike shoes. This mountain destroyed finally destroyed them; the soles were flapping around all over the place on the way down.
This section wasn’t that enjoyable and probably one of the reasons people don’t climb it often, HOWEVER…
…GETTING TO THE TOP…
… MADE IT TOTALLY WORTH IT.
We hiked part of the way round the crater but he insisted we had to turn back since one section (not this one) was too dangerous.
Split into two craters, the lake you can see is the higher one. The lower and highly active one was mainly obscured by smoke. I would descibe it as a deep vertical shaft. Throwing a rock in I could hear it clattering down for several seconds. It sounded like it caused a mini-rock slide within the crater. I didn’t do it again!
My awesome guide
8 thoughts on “El Salvador to Leon (Nicaragua). Volcanoes Consiguina, San Cristobal”
tonight after I put the girls in to bed, I will read your blog, so far I just saw the pictures. I like them.
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How many volcanoes is that in total now??
hi Steve! sorry I missed this comment. Around 25 or so! A ton more in South America to go…
Hey Nick, your story continues to impress me. How long have you been out for now? Well over a year, it seems! Thanks for sharing your adventures 🙂
Hi Laura! Good to hear from you. Yes, well over a year- still loving it… 🙂 N
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Hi! Your stories are great. I’m planning to hike the San Cristobal volcano too… 🙂 How did you get to the trail and where did you meet your guide? Do you remember how much it was? Thanks!
It’s a while ago that I did it so this is off the top of my head . I seem to still have the gpx plus waypoints which I recorded on Alpinequest. I took a ride from Chinandega along a dirt track which is part of the gpx. I think it’s good to take the guide to support the local economy and less chance of being robbed etc (the main reason I didn’t put the gpx on my blog). It’s nice to have a guide when at the top for the active crater. There’s another route on the other side so you could potential continue down instead of going back the same way but you’d need to research that and speak to the guide (do you speak Spanish?)
From memory I stayed in a place called Hotel Don Mario in Chinandega. They put me in contact with the guide and sorted out transport. You could try calling them if you don’t want to stay in Chinandega but the hotel was quite good and reasonable price. I can’t remember exactly how much the trip was. I think it was 55COR in total which the driver and guide got a tiny portion (like 6 each) so I gave them a good tip since they spent most of the day with me.
The guide was a farmer and lived near the base (nice chap) so you could probably camp with him if that’s what you want to do; I’m sure there’d be other options as well. I just did it as a day trip though leaving super early from Chinandega which worked out fine. Get up to the summit as early as possible for the view before the clouds come in (sunrise ideally).
Good luck, let me know how you get on.